Ask the Readers: Which Wolf do You Feed?

This post could have also been called:

Are you happy?

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-25-31-pm

Spendosaurus is always happy. Here he is showing off his new $110 scarf. Maybe money does buy happiness?

But that title is boring. Instead, let’s go with a famous parable:

One evening, an elderly Cherokee brave told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, ‘My son, the battle is between two wolves inside us all.

One is evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other wolf is good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.’

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked, ‘Grandpa, which wolf wins?’

The old Cherokee simply replied, ‘The one that you feed.’

I’ll have more to say about this in a moment, but first, let’s get to last week’s comments where I stated that I was delaying my retirement because of the demise of the ACA:

First, some folks sent me nasty messages claiming that I was bashing Trump. A couple of you vowed never to read this blog again. I strongly disagree with your assessment of my writing. I passed no opinions; only writing that Trump is going to dismantle the ACA. This isn’t passing judgement or bashing, it’s just stating what he vowed to do.

But there was some political back and forth in the comments about the ACA.

Done By Forty pointed to FactCheck article that showed the ACA isn’t as dreadful as some media outlets make it out to be:

Just like markets, early retirees hate uncertainty. The ACA has, without a doubt, slowed the rate of increasing insurance costs.

http://www.factcheck.org/2015/02/slower-premium-growth-under-obama/

 

Most of you echoed Mrs. Picky Pincher, stating that your plans would not change:

,,,our early retirement plans haven’t changed. We’ll still have insurance, since it’s currently the law, but we’ll mostly rely on ourselves for coverage in case we have a catastrophic medical issue (which would still be covered by insurance in that case anyway).

Reader Darcy gave me a little reality check:

…That post is full of hope and optimism! Where is that optimism today? I understand that Trump brings a level of uncertainty to the table, but it’s likely that any Republican president would have made changes to or dismantled the ACA, and it’s very unlikely that we would have a solid run of Democratic presidents during your retirement.

To me, this is just another uncertainty of retiring early. Health care is likely to remain a challenge no matter who our president is – but since you can’t predict what’s going to happen, you’ve just gotta roll with it! I think you’ll do just fine.

 

Reader SpacemanFry echoed Darcy’s comments:

…You’ve always said that you’re confident in your plans and if things change you can reassess and change your plans accordingly. Well, nothing has changed. Trump is not even president yet and you’re already changing your plans?! Stay the course, trust your plans, your skills and your flexibility.

And for crying out loud man, go have a good beer, enjoy the beautiful scenery in your area, play with your kids and stop freaking out 🙂

 

Perhaps I overreacted. After further consideration, I don’t think our president elect is going to yank the cord on the 20,000,000 Americans signed up for the ACA. And if he does, life will go on. For now, it’s wait and see.

As for Trump, I like what Tom Hanks (who didn’t support Trump) had to say:

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-06-38-pm

 

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-30-22-pm

 

Do you feed Good Wolf or Bad Wolf?

I’ve never been a happy person. I worry too much and focus on the negative. I feed Bad Wolf steak dinners regularly while Good Wolf goes hungry. And I hate it. The stuff I worry about never happens, so it’s a pointless exercise. It isn’t a fun way to live either. I’m prone to severe bouts of introspection which has led me to some ideas:

 

1) I have a shitty attitude

The Happy Fientist: I noticed a couple things when hanging around with happier friends. In Ecuador, I was relaxing on a porch with my friend Brandon and a couple other folks. We were drinking beer on a patio overlooking beautiful gardens. The drinks were cold, the temperature was perfect and the conversation was good. Brandon had a big smile on his face and uttered “soooo good” more than once.

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-8-33-41-pm

I was like meh, completely not appreciating the moment. Good Wolf was howling for my attention and I ignored him.

Happy Pete: Another day, I was walking with Pete (Mr. Money Mustache) and complaining about some random stuff. He shot down every whiney statement with positivity. I was feeding my Bad Wolf while Pete was countering with his Good Wolf.

It took a couple days, but looking back, I realize that Pete was right. I had overreacted to a situation and was far more negative that I needed to be. Furthermore, the thing that I was worrying about was out of my circle of control, so the exercise was a waste of my time.

Brandon and Pete are wired differently than me (50% of happiness is from genetics). I can’t change the way my brain is wired, but I still have the other 50% that I can control. I’ll have to work harder than them to get to a good place, but that doesn’t mean I have to feed Bad Wolf.

Putting it into practice

I had an opportunity to feed Good Wolf last week when my accountant let me know that I owed $15,000 in taxes for 2016:

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-04-06-am

$15,000?  Arrrrrrrgh! Bad Wolf immediately reared his angry head and begged for attention. I almost fed him, but thought better of it. I consulted Good Wolf who reminded me how wonderful my life is. This is the email I sent back to my accountant:

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-10-23-amAnd my accountant replied with:

screen-shot-2016-11-20-at-10-11-30-amI felt good and my accountant, who was not at fault whatsoever, also felt good. Bad Wolf went hungry while Good Wolf slept with a full stomach next to a roaring fire.

 

2) I have no time for the things I love

I love to play guitar, but my instruments haven’t seen the light of day in over a year. On Friday night, I broke them out and started wailing away. Why haven’t I been doing this for the past 3 years? The answer is easy; an incredible lack of time:

job + kids + home remodel + blog = severe time deficit

The good news is that the remodel is done and I just went to a 3 day/week work schedule, so this problem is solved. Hello Cleveland!

 

3) I’m not following my passions

This was another lesson I learned in Ecuador. This one deserves its own post, so you’ll have to wait.

 

4) I’m not exercising or sleeping well 

l feel silly that it took until I was 42 to get into tune with my body. Lack of sleep turns me in to a different person. I can’t focus and my mood is well, subpar (cranky as hell). I’m also a much better person when I can exercise for at least 45 minutes a day. I eat better and my well being is elevated. With my new time, I can work on this as well.

 

5) I’m not real

Too often, I haven’t been true to myself. I say what I think others want to hear or do what I think others want me to do. This behavior is fueled by lack of confidence and seeking acceptance. I apologize too much and don’t speak up enough. Pathetic, I know. But no more.

I am who I am. The end. If others don’t like that, too bad for them. No more fake me.

I am not afraid to keep on living,
I am not afraid to walk this world alone,
Honey, if you stay,
I’ll be forgiven,
Nothing you can say can stop me going home.

Famous Last Words, My Chemical Romance

 

Oh crap, this is supposed to be Ask the Readers and I’ve carried on for too long. This is supposed to be about you, but what you may not realize is that sometimes this blog is my therapy session. I’m still working through who I am and who I need to be. I feel better after writing posts like this and it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than psychotherapy.

OK, now back to you, this time for real:

  • How do you find your happiness?
  • Do you feed Good Wold or Bad Wolf?
  • Have you changed your state of happiness for the better? If so, how?

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52 Responses to Ask the Readers: Which Wolf do You Feed?

  1. First, I take responsibility for my happiness. It’s not up to some outside force to make me happy (or unhappy). And since I can’t control external factors, I practice trying to let them go. I remember the phrase “In the absence of my judgment, things would be neither good nor bad, they’d just be.”

    I highly recommend checking out Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff if you haven’t read it. It was one of those books that everyone had in the ’90s. I got a copy when I moved to Boston a decade ago and still refer to it regularly.
    Biglaw Investor recently posted…Vangaurd ETFs vs Index FundsMy Profile

  2. I am optimistic by nature which helps, but I also try to sit back and put things in perspective. This helps me keep an even keel.

    I agree with Spaceman Fry’s comment in the article. Not sure it is a good thing to already be questioning the sustainability of your investments…I’d just wait it out and see how the next 4 years go. After all, maybe you (along with Hanks) will be voting for Trump 4 years from now…there is my optimism again…
    The Green Swan recently posted…My Money Mistakes and RegretsMy Profile

    • I should have been clearer in my writeup last week. I’m not really questioning my investments; I’m questioning how much health care will cost. I can handle a $1,000/month insurance bill, but $2,000 would throw a big wrench in the works. It is ridiculous for me to speculate now though.

  3. Brent Loomis says:

    The “soooo good” part literally made me laugh out loud at work. I can hear him saying it now, sitting by the fireplace!

    I, like you, have similar Bad Wolf tendencies that are hard to control. This article was a great refresher on being happy for what you have! Thanks!

  4. Chad Carson says:

    Carl,
    We all need a good blog vent every once in a while. Lol.

    You mentioned a few things that help me feed my good wolf … sleep, exercise, nutrition. I also like to meditate, ideally first thing in the morning. I don’t do anything crazy with it – just sit in silence, either counting to 3 over and over, or repeating a short, inspirational passage.

    When I do all of those, and I add to it time with my family and time learning something new, it’s hard NOT to have a good day – no matter what else is going on. I’m not perfect with them, but for me working on cementing these as habits has improved that non-genetic 50% of the happiness equation you were talking about.

    As for health insurance, I’m just moving to South America until it all sorts itself out:)
    Chad Carson recently posted…The 35 Best Niches For Real Estate Investing (& How to Choose Yours)My Profile

    • Meditation! How did I forget that! Love this:

      “When I do all of those, and I add to it time with my family and time learning something new, it’s hard NOT to have a good day.”

  5. I struggle with anxiety, and that makes it so, so hard to feed the Good Wolf. It’s like having a second person there feeding Bad Wolf even though you keep slapping the steaks out of their hands and telling them to stop. Even if your brain wants to work a certain way, there are methods to start feeding the Good Wolf, but it takes a lot of work and self-awareness. I’m not there yet, but I treat every day like a new opportunity to be a little better.

    I think I’m happiest when I’m cooking or baking. I just spent an entire weekend cooking, and today I feel absolutely amazing. There’s something therapeutic about creating something wonderful with your own hands.

    • “I think I’m happiest when I’m cooking or baking. I just spent an entire weekend cooking, and today I feel absolutely amazing.”

      Oooooh, want to send some cookies my way*? That would make me happy!

      *Just kidding. Maybe…

  6. Jason says:

    I find happiness in a number of places. 1) The classroom. I honestly love being in the classroom and my students invigorate me. 2) Exploring old historic sites. I was in Prague last week and I was in heaven drinking great cheap beer and going to various castles. 3) I have great joy with my dog and my wife. 4) I find happiness in writing about politics. While many people hate it I love it.

  7. Dee says:

    It takes more work to find the positive and feed the Good Wolf but in the end it is so much more rewarding! I have found that feeding the Bad Wolf tends to spiral into more negativity, bad and sad feelings whereas feeding the Good Wolf has a positive ripple effect.

    I find that, for me, the positivity process requires a lot of self-awareness and balance.

    • “It takes more work to find the positive and feed the Good Wolf but in the end it is so much more rewarding!”

      Yeah, I find that you have to work at it all. the. time. It is easy to let it slip and go down a bad path. I wonder if it gets easier over time? Can we rewire our brains?

  8. Chris O says:

    My genetic component has set up a Bad Wolf Sanctuary, where naughty canines get spa treatments, mani/pedis, and daily pep talks from high-paid (de-)motivational speakers. I won’t pretend that it’s not a real problem for me, especially when some external situation that knocks me around a bit.

    My best tool is structure. I know my physical, mental and emotional triggers and avoid them. I know the things that help me (like a regular sleeping schedule that works with my circadian rhythms, taking vitamin D, positive self-talk, etc.). I curate the information I take in.

    I focus on ways that the things I CAN control prepare me to weather the things I can’t. That’s less than explanatory, so an example would be: I can’t control stock market volatility, but I can control how often I look at the stock report.
    Chris O recently posted…Weekly Challenge UpdateMy Profile

    • This is some great stuff Chris; are you for hire? 🙂 This is especially great:

      “I curate the information I take in.”

      • Chris O says:

        Dude, you can have this any time for free! Keep in mind the Bruce Lee Dictum, though: Take what is useful and ignore the rest.

        (apologize if this ends up being a double post – lost my connection at an inopportune moment)

  9. I definitely naturally sit on the bad wolf. That being said when it gets bad going to spend time with my kids or taking some time to travel somewhere helps. Beyond that clearing out the negative ahead of time leads to better long term happiness for me. Financial independence removes future concerns about money. Dealing with work items or other things proactively decreases the likelihood they will bite me in the butt. Keeping up with home and car maintenance removes surprises. Ultimately switching from my natural procrastinator lifestyle to one of proactive has given me less reason for the bad wolf to come out.
    Full Time Finance recently posted…How are things priced?My Profile

  10. Mrs. BITA says:

    My genetics cause me to have an obese Good Wolf. Mr. BITA’s Good Wolf, like yours, tends to go hungry unless he is mindful about feeding it.

    I like to have what I think of as my secret happiness stash. I stock my stash with happy things (the way Toddler BITA held my face in the morning and told me she loved me, Dog BITA’s over the top happiness when we played last night, a hummingbird that hovered super close to me…..). Then all through the day, when confronted by things that are annoying, infuriating or moronic, I can snort lines from my stash and get high on happiness again.

    • “I can snort lines from my stash and get high on happiness again.”

      Love it! Wait, is it possible to OD? Like if you snort too much, will you end up with a permanent grin like the Joker?

  11. ambertree says:

    I am too much if a bad wolf feeder. Slowly, I improve and try to focus on things I can change. That way, the bad wolf makes less noise and the good one sees positive results and feels he is actually doing something. But boy, I need practice ..!
    My wife is actually reading a book on focusing on the now… I should do that as well.

    Thx for the post, it feeds my good wolf, and saved it from starving.

  12. Mr. SSC says:

    I was thinking about writing this exact post. Mine went the route of “The Little Blue Truck” instead and wasn’t quite as detailed as yours. Nice job!

    I used to think I was optimistic and then I met Mrs. SSC. That woman exudes optimism like the sun gives off rays. This made me realize I’m not optimistic, I just grew up as the least negative person in my household. Yipe!!

    Like you, I find if I don’t get enough sleep, I turn into an ass. I was just thinking, why do I crave wanting to play the banjo anytime when I’m away from it. Yet when I’m home, I feel so exhausted, even video games get tiring. After the physical therapist killed my quads with squats today, I think I’m back to being able to exercise again, finally.

    My plan is feed the Good Wolf and starve the Bad wolf with the following regimen. Sleep more. Play music more. Pause before reacting which in essence means “shut the hell up when I think cranky thoughts and just keep them to myself.” Exercise again and burn off the Bad Wolf energy.

    Good luck to us on our journeys to kill the Bad Wolf.
    Mr. SSC recently posted…Lessons Learned from “The Little Blue Truck”My Profile

  13. Petra says:

    I had hoped that when the US had seen the benefits of people having health insurance, no politician would be stupid enough to change that for the worse. Not even politicians who are in favor of lower government expenses. For example: a politician who would propose to end the tax benefits of the 401k and IRA programs (programs that cost a lot of tax money) would probably not be able to keep their seat.

    Unfortunately, I think the ACA has not been around long enough, and perhaps has not been of enough quality (due to lots of different reasons) for all the people to see it as their unalienable right to have access to healthcare, no matter what. If it had been successful enough, the huge majority of the people wouldn’t vote for anybody who would even dare to suggest to get rid of it.

    I hope that something else comes in its place, and in particular something else that serves the real poor of the US (early retirees aren’t poor).

    • Ha ha, lots of folks vote because of not-so-clever one-liners politicians spew. I call it “bumper sticker politics.” Issues like the south China Sea and the North Korea nuclear threat aren’t easy to comprehend, so folks don’t bother.

      It will be an interesting 4 years; that’s for sure.

  14. RoseRelish says:

    Maybe I’m naïve, but the 20 million plus folks on ACA can’t be ignored and/or left without coverage that they now rely upon. Costs may change slightly (or drastically), but that’s just another puzzle for early retirees for figure out.

    Healthcare is a big cost, but missing out on the formative years with my kids is a bigger cost. That’s why I’m still “retiring” and not getting sucked into “one more year syndrome”. There will be a way to make more money and/or find affordable healthcare in the future. But delaying plans with time sensitivity isn’t an option.

    If you can’t tell, my Good Wolf is very well fed. He is my guide dog through life and guard dog when Bad Wolf musters up the courage and energy to strike. I’ve worried about things in the past and 95% of them have either not come true or ended up being molehills, not mountains.
    RoseRelish recently posted…Odds of Successful Early RetirementMy Profile

  15. Carl, I think you might have been a little hard on yourself.

    Everybody had good days and bad days. Seeing only negativity in yourself and only seeing the positive in others is going to make you feel terrible.

    I do this sometimes too. Get some sleep, and then try to find something positive to focus on. It helps if we don’t try to think about every problem in the world simultaneously.

    Just try to solve one problem — finding positivity to keep you strong. Once you’ve got that one taken care of, then try to solve the others.

  16. Ms. Montana says:

    I had a rough year, about 4 years ago, and it honestly took me about 2 years after that to find a more positive outlook. This last year I have been really guarding my thoughts and words that I speak. It’s hard to create positive and amazing change in my life, when my outlook sucks.

    Sleep is a non negotiable for me as well. 8.5 hours every night. No exceptions. (well, I give myself about 1 pass a month, and almost always regret it.) I also am very strict with the times I go to sleep and wake up. If I am not consistent, it messes the whole routine up.
    Ms. Montana recently posted…Early Retirement ExperimentMy Profile

  17. Jacq says:

    I and my family have found me without yoga for a vacation = grumpy Jacq. I have made a point since this revelation to ensure at least 1 yoga or other exercise (ex Kayaking) on trips depending on where the vacation is. Some of it is the familiarity of my own head space + physical familiarity. (vs the head space of driving in traffic when I get fidgety and frustrated and just want to -be there already-.)
    I am a worrier. I don’t know when it started, and I try very much to lessen it. I even have a fridge magnet that says “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere.” A few years ago, things were going well, and as I was drifting off to sleep part of my brain started with, “Sure, but what about starving children in Africa?”. I had a stern discussion with that part of my brain that we were not going to make sandwiches and fly to Africa with them and in the waking hours I could research charities to made donations to.
    Some of it is practiced optimism, or gratefulness that it’s not worse. In 2013 my apartment building had a fire in it, my apartment was water damaged. No one was hurt, all pets were found safe. (+) Sure, I had to replace items (-), and some of those they don’t make the same style/model any more ( 🙁 ), but really it was ‘just stuff’ (+). I had insurance to cover the cost of replacement (+). I also had money in savings that I could cover the purchases outright until insurance reimbursed me (+). They day it happened, I went to the apt complex office, got the info I needed, went back to work to wrap things up, ate the turkey burger I’d brought & went to yoga. Then I went to buy pajamas, and to the hotel we were being put up in.
    As much as the goal of “FIRE” and frugality means not making money the answer, often times the fact that I made a good wage & save means the things I worry about, can be solved. If I forget an item of clothing when I go on a trip, I can buy a new one. If I forget my lunch, (or your apartment burns down and you need to buy lunch)…I can just spend some money. Most things you can recover from…and the one you can’t you won’t be around to deal with. 😛
    I also know my worrying has made me have a plan A & a back up plan (or several), which means in the end, it’s probably going to be ok. Life experience has also taught me, it’ll be ok. Trying to return home after a last minute trip to see my grandfather just before he passed, my flight was delayed, took off hours late, we landed midway there because epic storms had airports shut down, we ended up taking the second set of buses from DC to Newark airport after discussion of renting a car, other flight options, trains etc. But, I got home…sure HR was a pain about giving me the extra day off of work, sure I had to find someone to pick me up 18 hours from my original ride, but it all worked out.
    We all have our own unique circumstances too…which often led us to who we are today… I have a friend who didn’t have it easy growing up, which taught him to be independent and self reliant and he makes a bunch more money than I do. I’m not envious of his earnings, I’ve got my own path, and in a different way, my supportive family and lessons from them have allowed me to save and be on my way to “FIRE”.

    Much of the ‘bad wolf’ is a myth, and I use logic and gratitude to help the ‘good wolf’ win.

    • Thanks for the thoughtful comment Jacq and I’m glad you got to see your grandfather one last time.

      This is great: “Worry is like a rocking chair, it will give you something to do but it won’t get you anywhere.”

      And so is this: “I use logic and gratitude to help the ‘good wolf’ win.”

  18. I too am worried about the ACA going away. Fortunately, I have a civil engineering degree, so I can get insurance through ASCE, but it is much more expensive and the benefits are poor. I recently turned 43, so similar in age to you. I have been ‘semi-retired’/part time for a few years now, but I have considered going back to work full time, or at least 30 hours a week just to get health insurance, if the ACA does truly go away. That just feels so unnatural though, to do something that will provide more stress, so that I need to actually use the insurance more! Like you said, it can be hard to stay on a healthy diet and exercise regimen with full time work. I know some people do it, but I find that my ‘primal’ side just doesn’t work well for that situation.

    As far as being happy, we have to remember that money is just one part of a happy life. What we really need as human beings is food, shelter, a clean environment, access to nature, community, love, purpose, passion, etc… These are so easy to meet, but we forget that in a world of mass consumerism, doom and gloom, politics, etc…
    Primal Prosperity recently posted…Are You a Hunter or a Farmer?My Profile

  19. You’re being really tough on yourself! I firmly believe that just recognizing that you should be more appreciative or optimistic about something is a big step in the right direction. Maybe you aren’t naturally as optimistic as those guys (…name dropping galore…) but the fact that you put effort into changing your outlook is a big deal! Lots of people would frown and keep gleefully shoving food into the bad wolf’s maw.

  20. Vicki says:

    I definitely feed the Good Wolf most days, but my husband is wired just like you. We are at our vacation condo in Florida and it’s sunny and 70. It snowed 15 inches at home today and he is still finding some fault here. And he often just seems stressed about things – yet he is retired and we are FI. It’s a drain on me – but I work to help him understand it better and avoid the Bad Wolf, while understanding his circle of control.

    Is Mrs. 1500 like you or the opposite? Curious… You know what they say about opposites…

  21. ChrisCD says:

    I go both ways. Sometimes Good Wolf wins, sometimes Bad Wolf wins. I’m “naturally” a cynic and sarcastic. I don’t actually know if it is genetic wiring or environment, but am leaning towards genes since as I get older I seem to be getting more like my dad. Seems like a “dad” switch has been turned on.

    It is far easier for me to point out where others should be happy and positive and miss the times I am far too negative, but that seems to be almost universally true, too. We are often troubled by others “negatives” that are alive and well in ourselves.

    I guess we don’t mind you being self-therapeutic on your blog as long as you don’t mind as doing so in the comments. :O)

    Here is to working on making the Good Wolf fat and happy this week. :O)

  22. I don’t need to feed my negativity to get it prowling – I’m naturally a pessimist, so I let it run its course til the energy runs out so that I can then concentrate on making realistic plans. It doesn’t take away my ability to enjoy the good in life because I have a process for dealing with the negativity, mostly, and there’s yoga and running with the dog for the rest of it.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted…Open Enrollment 2016-2017, and the benefits of benefitsMy Profile

  23. gwenith42 says:

    Hi
    I’m going to be all geeky engineer and suggest another way to look at the Bad Wolf, building on what folks have said – through the lens of habits… that 50% you can control part…

    So much of what we do and how we react to the world is simply unconscious habits… and while the researchers (currently) think that your habits are always burned into your synapses, you can create new, healthier habits with repetition. If necessary, build a spreadsheet and a plan, just like it’s a portfolio for reaching FIRE.
    Do your best to structure your life to avoid the triggers that feed the BW (sounds like you’re off to a good start) and when things happen, consciously practice looking for the bright side and/or all the worse ways it could go – make it a game…and *practice*…
    You can only control you and your reaction to the stimuli – ask yourself, “will this matter in five years?”…heck, “will it matter tomorrow!?”

    I had some crappy jobs, miserable years of experiences, and finally got out.
    It forced me to realize how much I was responsible for making myself miserable… I make a regular practice of reminding myself to be grateful and happy for all the ways my current situation is So Much Better that it was previously. Mindfulness, meditation, practicing gratitude – it’s about paying attention and not just reacting. Personally, I find that helping other folks, cheering them up, volunteering, exercising, etc. are all natural mood lifters… so I try to seek out those things. If you make it a habit, you’ll start reacting positively, even if you don’t want to be positive…but as you go along, the emotion will eventually follow.

    Keep writing, I enjoy reading your world – it helps us all examine our own navels.

    • Hi gwenith42-

      I like your geeky engineer ways and your thoughts resonate. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment. It’s time to make a Google Doc and get to work…

  24. I’ve had issues with depression pretty much all my life (just didn’t have a name for it way back when). The election left me reeling, and some other issues too private to share have been chivvying at me for weeks.

    Today I had a good day of work (writing the sequel to “Your Playbook For Tough Times”) and my partner fixed us a couple of steaks in the evening (they were even on sale, bless his heart). While I’m still unhappy about the way things turned out, I am focusing on good-wolf behavior: writing things that will help others, remembering to be grateful for my amazing guy, donating to causes that are important to me, believing that things WILL get better.

    The bad wolf is still lurking. It probably always will. But I am determined not to let it set my agenda.
    Donna Freedman recently posted…The scent of home.My Profile

  25. When I’m feeling down, I reflect on what really matters. Four and a half years ago my husband almost died of septic shock (he was on a ventilator, in the ICU for a week, and away from home for a month). Since then he’s had multiple very complex surgeries to try and repair the damage done.

    That event was a turning point in my life-so much so that I usually refer to events occurring “before” or “after” he got sick. Before that I might be upset about a project at work, frustrated that the trash wasn’t taken out, or other little things. Now I’ll still sometimes get upset about little things, but if I find I’m starting to obsess (aka feed the bad wolf) I stop myself and think “is this situation bad compared to that?” The answer is always “no”. That helps me to re-frame whatever’s happening. It can be especially helpful in dealing with work situations where I might start feeling stressed out.

    Reflecting on that time also helps me better appreciate those small things I would otherwise take for granted. Going to a park with the family, taking a day trip, just hanging around the house doing projects. They’re all things I thought we may never do again, and I’m grateful for them.

    • “That event was a turning point in my life-so much so that I usually refer to events occurring “before” or “after” he got sick.”

      What a powerful lesson. Noting like a bad event to set a point of comparison for you. Thinking back, I had an event similar to this; not nearly as bad as yours, but it could have killed me…

  26. Team CF says:

    Sincerely hope that with your part-time job and finished remodels, and associated ability to exercise more, sleep better and eat well, you can put the good wolf ahead of the bad one. Genetic are one components, but endorphin’s and various vitamins and phyto-nutrients significantly help improve your mood too.
    Mr CF is an optimist and definitely provides the Good Wolf with energy. But the realist in myself often feeds the bad wolf too. Keeping the good wolf ahead is a work in progress.
    Best of luck to you Mr 1500. May you slay the bad wolf
    Team CF recently posted…How do we calculate our Savings Rate?My Profile

  27. Mattia says:

    “Plan for the worst, hope for the best”

    This is a simple rule to feed the Good Wolf (hope for the best, reinforcing good thoughts) while keeping the Bad Wolf in check (if you plan for the worst, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that, no matter what, you’ll be prepared). I find this helps a lot even in dire situations. I know it worked for me ; )

  28. VeganOnFIRE says:

    That’s a great topic and perfect timing for me. I have noticed that I also tend to focus on the negative aspects of my life. A lot of my co-workers are the same. I’ve often said that we aren’t truly “happy” at work unless we are complaining about something.

    Most of the time I’m thinking, “Man, my life will be so much better when I can retire when I’m 40.” Well, I’m 25 now, so does that mean I have to be miserable and hate my life for the next 15 years? I think now is the best time ever (especially with Thanksgiving in a couple of days) to really do some self-reflection and find out what can make me happy while on this path towards early retirement.

  29. Beth says:

    Thank you. I needed that.

  30. This post goes to 11.

  31. “I’m a make deal with the bad wolf so the bad wolf don’t bite no more.” -Awolnation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2PsXT88UeU

    My potential retirement / part time date keeps getting moved closer for many of the same reasons you describe.

    It’s hard to tell the world you’re doing this thing to have more free time and be a better family man when the blog, as fun as it is, takes even more time away from you and your family. The PIE family (planinvestescape.com) just went on an indefinite hiatus for the same reason.

    Cheers to your part time schedule, Thanksgiving, and the good wolves!
    -PoF

  32. I’m a spiritual guy, so I always have to look to God for my happiness. I am blessed beyond measure with friends, opportunities, and a warm place to rest my head when I am tired. But it’s still so easy for these blessings to become normalized, and take them for granted. It’s humbling to know that even though I make mistakes, and I fall short of perfection all the time, there’s still enough grace in this world for me to climb up and turn those mistakes into successes. For me, happiness is found in serving the Path that I receive from God. When I serve, I find purpose, and fulfillment, and adventure. I find completeness, and happiness. I become a leader because I realize this life is not mine. I am a servant and leader for others. My wealth is found when I no longer have to work for someone else. I can work full time to fulfill the calling God has for my life, and inspire others on my journey. That is my personal bliss and what I dream of doing for the rest of my life. God bless!

  33. Mrs S says:

    I have always believed that you have to want to be happy. It is easy to just think about one problem after another. For me it is similarly as easy to think about one blessing after another. Of late the job has been creating a lot of shitty stress and we both have realized that ‘if this is the only problem in our lives we are blessed’!
    Very recently we were talking to my cousins who were lamenting their habit of being sad and worrying about one thing after another. They had never taken the time to stop and smell the roses.

    I try to feed the good wolf but my temper sometimes ruins the meal.

    I really recommend people who can’t stop worrying or whining to repeat the same mantra we do. ‘It this is all that is wrong with our lives we are blessed.’

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